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Using Scenarios to Build a Resilient Community: Lessons Learnt in Sunraysia

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Treeby, Jenny; Henderson, Kirsten; Strange, Pam; Welsh, Caroline; Putland, Stuart
  • Journal Name: Extension Farming Systems Journal
  • Journal Number: Vol. 5, No. 1
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia

The 'Sunraysia' region is Australia's premier producer of irrigated horticultural foodstuffs such as wine grapes, table grapes, dried fruit, vegetables and tree crops (citrus, olives, almonds and pistachios). Located on the borders of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia at the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers, the region is facing broad challenges and opportunities associated with issues such as climate change, reduced water security, drought, and market volatility. These issues require industries and communities to change their 'business as usual' practices in order to assure their continued sustainability in the region. This requires informed planning involving the integration and coordination of stakeholders' views on how to meet the challenges ahead. A series of workshops held with representatives from producer associations, water authorities, local government, rural financial counsellors and catchment management authorities identified the key influences on the region and formulated four scenarios for the future of Sunraysia. These scenarios are being presented back to regional groups for incorporation into strategic plans that will help each industry/business/agency to anticipate and respond to change in a confident and coordinated manner and build a resilient agribusiness community in Sunraysia. Three key lessons learnt from the project were: - A locally based project team with a thorough understanding of the region, its issues and industries, as well as excellent connections with the agribusiness community is vital for the success of this type of project. - Devolving leadership of the project to participants ensures ownership of the project and a willingness to share knowledge and ideas. - The scenarios act as 'boundary objects' around which different world views can be brought together 'without requiring the establishment of one shared perspective' (Novak 2007: 3), enabling constructive and cooperative planning across a range of sectors.

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